Whether our work is unpaid or underpaid, we work hard to meet our needs and pursue our goals. We each contribute in our own unique ways to our loved ones and our community. We all deserve to get the help we need, no matter what. When we have a solid foundation to meet our needs, we can take opportunities to build the life we want.
We are each the expert in our own lives and know how to meet our needs better than anyone else. With direct, flexible cash assistance, we can have what we need to make the best decisions for us. Parents can buy their growing child new shoes one month and afford to replace a flat tire the next. People with disabilities can buy the device that best helps them stay connected with friends and loved ones. Seasonal workers can stock their fridge even when work is slow. A first-generation college student can afford textbooks and bus fare to get to class.
However, our safety net system is built around harmful stereotypes about poverty, race, gender, disability, and immigration. When our lawmakers believe these false narratives about who is deserving and who is not, they make policy decisions that put up roadblocks to getting help for the people who need it most.
What We’re Doing About it
In 2022, we launched the Campaign for Cash!
Starting in July 2022, we are started convening community leaders to work on changing the narrative around cash assistance and envisioning new ways to get cash in the pockets of those who need it.
Campaign for Cash Mission Statement: CFC hopes to co-create a world where the narratives, inaccessible resources, and barriers of poverty cannot stop any person from asking and receiving help in order to unleash their full potential. CFC strives to share lived experiences, raise awareness around the issues our communities face, and create accountability for those in power.
Advocating for increased equity in the TANF program
We are fighting for TANF time limit exemptions for families experiencing hardships, eliminating time limits for child-only cases, and introducing Stabilization Waivers so that families are not penalized when they face complications in life like a loss of housing or a child’s severe illness.
Since Black, Indigenous, and Latin@ families are disproportionately harmed by the current policies in these areas, our suggested improvements would impact equity for those families the most.
While TANF is a crucial lifeline for families, there are also many ways the program can be improved to help families get help when they need it and facilitate transitions to stability.
These include smoothing the cliff effect for families transitioning to employment, allowing families to keep 100% of their child support, increasing the TANF cash grants to keep up with inflation and rising costs of living, and increasing asset limits.
Washington state’s cash assistance program for disabled adults living in deep poverty is called Aged, Blind, Disabled (ABD). People can qualify for ABD when they are likely to transfer onto Federal Social Security (Disability) Income (SSI).
However, once recipients transfer onto SSI, they are expected to pay back every dollar given to them by ABD. It should not be the burden of those living in deep poverty to reimburse the state, especially when transferring to a low, fixed income due to a disability.
Washington should end this practice and help keep money in the hands of those who need it most.
Supporting equitable access to DSHS services and preventing ongoing racialized harm caused by the Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA)
OFA investigations are invasive and intimidating, and have an outsized impact on preventing Black, Latin@, and Indigenous families from safely accessing their benefits.
Families are often investigated either because of honest mistakes made on complicated government forms or as a result of caseworker referrals based in implicit bias.
By shifting funding away from harm and into support, we can increase equitable access and make sure everyone can get the help they need.
- Improve equity and access to safety net programs and ensure that everyone can meet their basic needs
- Implement innovative poverty reduction efforts and ensure that people can move past surviving into thriving
- Correct entrenched false narratives about poverty by centering and uplifting the voices of those with the most experience